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53

promised, bad or good, he would feel a little puzzled, won-
dering why he had been so concerned; for the weather of that
day, or of any day, had no bearing on the expectation that
had prompted him to leap up.

Though the expectation never came to focus now, as in the
mornings of hiž childhood when he would remember, sud-
denly, that it was Saturday or Christmas, it filled him, even
during the absorbing activities of the day, with an energy
that drove him through the execution of his duties, as though
every small obligation fulfilled would bring him that much
nearer to the unnamed object of his excitement. And the
energy seemed boundless. Even when, sitting with May at
home at night, he would lean back in the chair and be silent,
it was not because he was tired. He was never tired now.
His nerves would be alive, and if he was silent, it was because
his mind was, at those moments, like an eye unseeing but
straining forward into the dark.

" You look tired, Perse," his wife would say.

"I'm not tired."

"Perse, I wish you wouldn't work so hard," she would urge
him. "You're wearing yourself out."

" No," he would answer shortly, but in a tone more patient
than irritated.

" I wish you wouldn't, Perse; you look tired."

"No, May."

" Other men don't work that hard," she would insist

"It'll be over soon."

She might come to sit in his lap then, and lean her head
against his shoulder. He would put his arm around her
waist and spread his fingers on her small, rounded hip, his
thumb aware of the upper edge of her hip bone beneath the
flesh, the bone in its fragility like a valuable bowl, or cup,
wrapped to prevent damage.

"Soon?" she would ask.

"Yes."

"I never see you much, any more," she would say. " You're
so busy, you're away so much, Perse."